A couple of weeks ago I attended the One Show. The enthusiasm of the audience was as energizing as the work was impressive. I left feeling inspired, encouraged and challenged to be better. It was interesting to talk about it with one of my employees who attended the One Show for the first time. I asked him how it made him feel. He said it wasn't what he thought it would be. He was inspired by the work he saw, but not necessarily by people walking onto the stage picking up One Show Pencils. He said he couldn't wait to get the show annual to study the work more closely. He said he didn't want to emulate so much as analyze. He wanted to know how, because he was confident that with focus, he could do work at a higher level.
My experience is that shows such as the One Show, CA, D&AD and the Effies, all the way down to the local shows, act as fuel. They push us to do better work. They inspire us by showing us how high the bar really is. They throw down a challenge to stop making the same old excuses for mediocrity. Shows also remind us that our situation is not as dark as it seems. I recall a friend in attendance at the One Show remarking with relief that the work was still great this year. It will be next year, too, because some will not be deterred from doing their best.
"Doesn't the fact that our economy is in flames negate all of this?" you might ask. No. Award shows are the impetus to better work, and better work can't take holiday just because we're struggling. Better work is exactly what we need to make it through the challenge without losing our way.
Better work leads to more work. Better work does more with less. Better work makes your agency more marketable. Better work keeps your employees motivated when you can't give them a raise or, worse, when you have to do a layoff. Better work shows you are a strong company to your current roster of clients. Better work is why most of us are in this business.
Award shows celebrate the spirit of innovation that is so critical to our industry being relevant in the future. From them we learn how people are living. We see how they are responding to information. We see how communication is evolving on a personal level. Now, more than ever, the award shows are helping us keep pace with the application of technology to communicate.
Sure, there are those that walk around feeling like a movie star because they won an award. They feel more important, more intelligent and more talented than anyone else in the room. Let them be. They would be incorrigible regardless.
The economy isn't going to rise anytime soon. Don't cut something that is important to morale, to inspiration and to celebrating hard work from your employees' experience. You will lose something more critical in the effort to save a small percentage of your budget. You will lose your momentum, and you will lose the people that make the difference in your success.